Pizza in Motion wrote about a woman who is suing Atlantis Resort, Paradise Island in the Bahamas over what appears to be one of the worst cases of bed bug bites I’ve ever seen and their alleged unwillingness to address the situation.
I reached out both to the woman that’s suing the property, and to Atlantis, in order to learn more.
Cindi Avila is a former anchor for NY1, reporter for WWOR in New York, and producer for CBS News, MSNBC, and Fox News who now works in public relations.
She reports staying in room 5-552 of the Atlantis Royal Tower and discovering itchy bites on her body and seeing a small bug on the bed.
She saw the nurse on property and was given calamine lotion. She reported the situation to hotel management, but says that they didn’t want to address it and told her “that after she checked out they would check her room.”
She lifted the mattress of the bed in her room, and she took video which she provided:
Her pleas to management eventually brought staff to the room, but she says they didn’t act. She packed and left.
Cindi tells me it took her weeks to recover, that she “didn’t sleep for 5 nights” and that she wanted the hotel to ‘restore her confidence’ and that she “would have liked them to ask her back.. wanted to know they’re changing policies in the future.” But she says nobody called to express concern.
The hotel‘s spokesperson acknowledged “the problem” and provided a statement saying that they immediately took the room out of service and brought in their pest company. They say they have had no reports of bedbugs in the room in “the more than one year since her stay.” I’ve asked the obvious followup – whether they had reports of bedbugs in other rooms but have not yet received a response, I will update if they do respond.
The property says they provided her with compensation for her stay and offered to cover medical expenses and seems to suggest she’s unreasonable in her demands.
Credit: Cindi Avila
What I’m having trouble with is housekeeping, how a proper housekeeping program at a premium hotel would miss this. The hotel should know about the situation before a guest arrives — especially a property that has had reports of bedbugs in the past — take the room and surrounding rooms out of service, and address it.
Bed bugs can be difficult to eradicate, but all efforts should be made and any room that’s been identified to have them needs to be out of service until it’s absolutely certain they are gone and not merely hiding.
The only time I’ve ever had bedbug bites in all of my hotel stays was while staying at a luxury property in 2013. I discretely informed the hotel. They sent people to the room immediately. While they didn’t find anything, they moved me right away to a much better room. I actually stayed at the hotel again in 2014, and arranged with them to inspect the room in advance of my arrival. I’m not naming the property because I stayed elsewhere the previous night, and not being a bedbug expert I am not 100% comfortable ruling out the other hotel.
Gary in 2013
Many hotels have bedbug issues. They’ve been common in major US cities like New York and Chicago. Bedbugs are said to smell like rotting berries. They hide under beds, inside luggage, and in furniture. Putting your bag down on bedbugs can transfer them to your luggage.
I expect a hotel I’m staying in to proactively identify problems and address them before they assign me a room. Perhaps that’s unrealistic, but I think any hotel failing to do that aggressively is falling down on its responsibilities in a major way.
Here’s the hotel’s full statement:
Atlantis, Paradise Island has the utmost concern and respect for every guest experience. Included in our protocol are very strict standards of hotel hygiene and cleanliness. In the unusual event we are made aware of a concern, we respond immediately to the situation and take the appropriate steps to remediate the problem as we did with Ms. Avila.
When Ms. Avila reported a concern about bedbugs in her room, the resort immediately took the room out of service, brought in the property’s professional pest company to eradicate the problem and provided compensation for her stay. The property had no prior complaints regarding Ms. Avila’s room and has had no reports of bedbugs in the room in the more than one year since her stay.
The resort offered to reimburse Ms. Avila for any medical bills resulting from her experience, which she declined. Since that time, Ms. Avila has repeatedly, and through three different attorneys, attempted to extract a large financial settlement from the resort and threatened intimidation in the media if her financial demands were not met.
Atlantis is dedicated to treating all guests fairly and handling claims professionally. We have engaged with Ms. Avila directly and then her multiple prior attorney’s continually over the year since this incident took place in an effort to resolve this matter. We regret that she has decided to take this course of action in a further effort to extract a large financial reward.
Avila’s lawsuit was filed in Florida court in Miami. Of course the incident took place in the Bahamas. Her attorney acknowledges there will be a jurisdictional argument over whether she consented to Bahamas jurisdiction or if she can sue where the corporation has offices.
It will be interesting to see how this case progresses — though most cases don’t reach a final verdict, I’d love to know what bed bug bites are ‘worth’.